Benny’s – Sign of the Apocalypse
It is easy to talk about the impact on local businesses of Walmart, Home Depot and online shopping, but then comes the announcement that 31 Benny’s stores will be closing due to those soulless competitors by the end of year. That’s in-your-face reality, and not so pleasant. In fact, for those who liked to shop there and enjoy the stores’ understated ambiance, like Phillipe and Jorge, it flat-out sucks.
While P&J always prefer to give our custom to local merchants, farm stands and quirky little shops whose only reason for existence was the sometimes deranged dedication and love of their owners, the Big Box Boys and Amazonian Onliners are sucking the life out of community commerce. And Americans seem more than happy to fall for their manipulative marketing tactics, and at the same time, inferior products or stylized “gourmet” or “special edition” items that only a person who believes Donald Trump when he speaks would think are the real deal.
Yes, P&J have succumbed to the everything-on-sale-all-the-time allure of a Walmart, but usually to only buy underwear and golf balls, the latter since most of the local sporting goods stores went the way of Tiger Woods’ career. But the idea of buying a product you can only see in a picture, such as with Amazon, seems insane. It reminds us of the movie “Spinal Tap,” where the demented rockers order up a version of Stonehenge for their stage act, only to find out in reality — and too late — it is proportional to one that might be in a model train set.
Benny’s seemed to epitomize the famed slogan, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” We have bought fishing gear, fireplace logs, beach chairs, outdoor wear and brooms and mops there over the years. And we went to Benny’s to get them because we knew they would have them. And also to have cashiers who could actually ring you out properly, without having to call over the manager because they entered a pack of gum as a flat screen TV and then couldn’t figure out how to cancel.
Adios, Benny’s. Thanks for the memories.
PawSox Passion Play
Let us lead off this item by saying that there are no bigger fans of the Pawtucket Red Sox than Phillipe and Jorge, who have, respectively, thrown out the first pitch at a game and sung the national anthem on the field before the game. And PawSox Vice Chairman Mike Tamburro, a holdover from the Ben Mondor years, is, along with the late Ben, in the running for the nicest person we have ever met.
Now the PawSox ownership is tugging at the heartstrings and emotional attachment folks like P&J have for their team as they attempt to get taxpayer support for a new stadium that would guarantee the club stays here in Little Rhody for years to come. The Senate Financial Committee held a recent hearing for the new ownership’s proposal to build one in The Bucket on the old Apex site. (Hey, it’s Vo Dilun, where all directions and points of reference are given based on no longer extant buildings.) This is largely because Senate President Rubbers Ruggerio is so deep in the tank for the new owners he needs SCUBA gear.
P&J are not financial investment wizards, which besides meaning we actually have consciences, unlike hedge fund and giant vampire squid Goldman Sachs honchos, prompts us to ask a few simple questions as the new owners, led by Larry Lucchino, make their pitch for local and state taxpayer support for their venture.
Now, why don’t the millionaire owners of the club simply foot the bill entirely for a new stadium? Would it prevent them from being able to buy their newest Mercedes (an obscene car, driven only by Beverly Hills plastic surgeons and African cabinet ministers) or 100+-foot yacht? Lucchino boasts that the 54% investment the owners are making is considerably more than the 14 other Triple A or Double A (this is minor league talk, the PawSox are Triple A, one step down from The Show) built in the last decade. So because some other gullible schmucks gave it up for the absentee ownership we are supposed to cave in? (Laughably, RI Commerce Corporation Secretary Stefan Pryor was quoted as saying, “We drive a hard bargain in Rhode Island,” when in fact he and his agency can get rolled like a bowling ball according to the whims of Governor Gigi or Rubbers.)
One would think that if the PawSox ownership is so sure this will be a financially sound investment, based on the revenue they claim they and the city and state would realize, why not pay the full tab? Then they get their profits, Pawtucket and the state get their share via taxes, The Bucket cashes in on ancillary revenue from new development around the stadium (as it is claimed would occur), and we make sure Little Rhody companies do the necessary construction work. Are we just simple-minded, or does this not make sense?
This whole mare’s nest of financial wheeling and dealings that few in the public can actually grasp, and the reluctance of the already filthy rich owners to foot the bill, reminds P&J about how bacon and eggs are made: the chicken’s involved, but the pig’s committed.
Hey Mr. Lucchino: “Sooo-eee?”
The Main Event
Wow! What a match-up! “Delusional Donnie” Trump versus “The Korean Killer,” Kim Jong-Un. We can’t wait.
What? This isn’t a wholly contrived Worldwide Wrestling Federation event? This involves the future of the planet? Oops, sorry. Excuse us, but we have a date with a bomb shelter.
Can you think of a worse pair of people to have access to nuclear weapons? Two self-absorbed bubble boys who are so scared of being found to be insecure lunatics that they have to threaten the existence of any world order to serve their narcissism?
Since this is a gigantic comedy and tragedy rolled into one as we go to print (and at the last minute hear of yet another North Korean missile being sent out over Japan), let’s just hope our White House “disciplinarian” chief of staff, former Marine Corps General John Kelly, has the plastic twist ties and duct tape on hand that will be necessary to bind and muffle our wonderfully clueless and over-reactionary president before he can get to the nuclear codes and red button “football” that follows him around.
Has it come to this? Yikes. Sleep tight, Harry Truman.
Your superior correspondents are among the many who will miss the magnificent Sylvia Moubayed, who passed away recently at the age of 80. Sylvia was the creative spirit/owner of CAV, one of the most unique and fun places in the Providence area. CAV is a fine restaurant that exhibits and sells antiques. They also regularly featured jazz at a time when so few venues would.